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Review: Grim Anthology

April 12th, 2014 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kaitlin under Review Tags: Amanda Hocking, Christine Johnson, Claudia Gray, Ellen Hopkins, Fairytale Retellings, Fantasy, Grim Anthology, Jackson Pearce, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jon Skovron, Julie Kagawa, Kimberly Derting, Malinda Lo, Myra McEntire, Paranormal, Rachel Hawkins, Review, Sarah Rees Brennan, Saundra Mitchell, Shaun David Hutchinson, Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, Young Adult

grimamTitle: Grim

Editor: Christine Johnson

Author: Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Julie Kagawa, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Kimberly DertingMyra McEntireMalinda Lo, Sarah Rees BrennanJackson PearceChristine JohnsonJeri Smith-ReadyShaun David HutchinsonSaundra Mitchell, Sonia GenslerTessa Gratton, Jon Skovron

Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

Publication Date: February 25, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 476 Pages

ISBN-10: 0373211082 (Harlequin Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0373211081 (Harlequin Teen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

Step into a world of dark and twisted fairytales, with stories by Julie Kagawa, Amanda Hocking and more…

In the days when fairytales were first spun, they weren’t the sweet and cheerful stories we tell today. Back then, fairytales were terrifying. They were a warning to the listener to stay out of the night, to keep away from the mystical and ignore the mysterious.

Grim features some of today’s best young adult authors, sharing their own, unique retellings of classic fairytales from around the world. These talented writers, many of them New York Times bestsellers or award-winners, have put their own spin on these magical worlds…

Prepare to open a treasure box of the unusual and the macabre.

Quick & Dirty: Overall, I am not a huge fan of anthologies, but this contained so many memorable short stories it would take too long to write a review for every one. I was very impressed and definitely enjoyed myself reading it!

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Key by Rachel Hawkins - 5 Stars

Lana has powers like her mother, powers to look inside a person’s mind. It comes in handy when her mom needs to evaluate what a customer came for, in their little fortune-telling truck. But when Lana has to look inside Skye, the boy she has been secretly dating, she’ll discover something that will change everything.

This story was really short. To tell you the truth, I’m not a huge fan of anthologies, because this shortness usually limits you getting to know the character and understanding them, etc., plus everything goes really fast. But in The Key, I really felt like I was in the story with Lana. Everything was described clearly and at a pace that was easy to follow. I was impressed by the characterization of Skye especially, and I picture him as a brooding, mysterious, sly boy. Altogether, this is probably my favorite YA short story of the book, because of its execution.

Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready - 4 Stars

Yet another story I was impressed by! Eli is a musician born from a father who never cared, one that had one huge hit, then unexpectedly his career crashed. When dear old papa passes away, Eli is left with nothing from his will . . . except a stuffed cat. But this cat has powers of persuasion and luck, and will be a vital tool in Eli’s life.

Fig was an interesting character. He sees the way it is and he tells it. It’s a blunt way of thinking but one I enjoyed, and a bit of fun humor is added with Fig’s love of boots. That was the only part of the story that clued me in to the origins of the fairy tale it’s based on, Puss in Boots, to tell the truth. And Figment was well-written! I understood everything perfectly and loved the flow of the sentences. Definitely read this one if you pick up Grim.

The Twelfth Girl by Malinda Lo - 3 Stars

This story was enjoyable with a major plot twist at the end. To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favorites, but I did like reading it. Liv is trying to get into Harley’s group of twelve. These girls flout the rules, sneak out nightly, and never, ever, get caught. But these powers come at a cost, and Liv is the only one strong enough to still break the curse. I could tell within the first pages it was a remake of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it didn’t stray far from the original.

Liv is a well-done character. She has the elements of a solid point of view: inquisitive, clear, and strong imagery as we read.  The one thing I did not feel so strongly about was how she broke the “curse”. It took probably five pages and she figured out the riddle within seconds, taking the point away from it being a riddle in the first place. Also, the pacing of defeating the curse went faster than the rest of the story. Altogether, though, this was a memorable book because of the surprise twist on the last page.

The Brothers Pigget by Julie Kagawa - 5 Stars

Percival Pigget is fat. Not slightly overweight, but fat, with layers of chins. He lives in a bakery with his two very protective brothers, and one day he meets a girl he falls in love with. And unlike others, she is friendly, looks past his appearances . . . might even be falling for Percival. But when he sees Maya and another boy kissing, everything changes.

Even from the title, it’s clear this is a retelling of the Three Little Pigs. All the brothers have names that start with P. They are all fat, with different houses, and at one point are plagued by a monster whose origins are revealed at the end. This story stuck out to me out of all of them because it was well-written and had a shroud of mystery and foreboding I enjoyed.

Better by Shaun David Hutchinson - 5 Stars

Pip isn’t real, she’s been told a hundred times before. Flesh created in a lab, not human, not capable of love, not capable of pain. But Pip falling for Levi seems real. It feels real. And as long as Pip remains a lab mouse and Levi is struck by a stifling, fatal disease, they will never be together. In Better, Levi and Pip fight to defeat that which forces them apart.

This story has everything. It is well-written, has amazing characters, a cute romance, a time limit, a stereotypical community, and a dystopian world built in outer space. From the start, you’re lured into the horrible world Pip lives in. In one line I felt so hopeless for the character, my chest seized up: “You are not real. You can’t hate me, because you can’t feel hate. You won’t ever fall in love because you’ll never know what real love feels like.” I wish the author could elaborate this story into a full, 400 page book, because I would read it. In the short time you know the characters, you feel for them. I highly recommend getting Grim if only to read this (although I loved almost every single one!)

Skin Trade by Myra McEntire - 1 Star

I can’t provide a synopsis for this story, because I didn’t understand it in the slightest. I’m sorry, but I read it twice and still not understanding. Are the antagonists eating their victims? Drinking their blood? Selling their skins? So much happened at once, not a second of clarity was provided. And the romance, the romance made me snort. It happened so quickly, and I didn’t understand either of the character’s personalities. This was probably one of the most gory and confusing stories I’ve read in my life, and trust me, I’ve read a lot.

FTC Advisory: Harlequin Teen provided me with a copy of Grim. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: A Kiss of Blood by Pamela Palmer

April 11th, 2014 @ 12:02 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: A Kiss of Blood, Pamela Palmer, Paranormal Romance, Review, Urban Fantasy, Vamp City Series

A Kiss of BloodTitle: A Kiss of Bood

Author: Pamela Palmer

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Series: Vamp City (Book 2)

Publication Date: June 25, 2013

Format: Paperback, 350 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062107534 (Avon)

ISBN-13: 978-0062107534 (Avon)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

Only one woman can save Vamp City…

One of the few humans who managed to escape the deadly twilight world of Vamp City, Quinn Lennox vows to never return. But the vampires want her back, for only she has the power to renew the magic of their crumbling world and free the vampires trapped within.

When the dangerous and all-too-seductive Arturo Mazza comes for her, Quinn knows she can never trust him after the betrayal she suffered at his hands. But with her beloved brother’s fate hanging in the balance, and her own power beginning to emerge, she chooses to risk all on yet another perilous journey back to Vamp City. And though she tries to deny it, her heart begins to hold hope that even a ruthless vampire can learn the meaning of true love.

Quick & Dirty: A dark urban fantasy that toes the line towards paranormal romance. A Kiss of Blood has the feel of a filler novel and some readers may not like the complete 180 of a characters actions.

Opening Sentence: F our more days until Quinn Lennox’s life, as she knew it, was over.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

A Kiss of Blood is the sequel to Pamela Palmer’s A Blood Seduction and this novel felt almost completely opposite of its predecessor. There are two big reasons why. One is that Arturo, the main love interest to Quinn, was completely evil in the first novel. He had no problem tossing Quinn away even with his intense interest in her. He went from being almost the ultimate bad boy to a puppy dog, hanging on to Quinn’s every word and promising to make up for his past sins so he could be the man she loved in every way. The second is that Vamp City is a terrifying and cruel world and the vampires let you know it on almost every page. In A Kiss of Blood they let you know how bad it is all the time but the cruelty isn’t seen until closer to the end so the extreme peril that Quinn is in doesn’t feel materialized until then.

This series toes the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The same main characters are involved in the storyline, switching between Quinn and Arturo’s points of view. Their romance and attraction for each other is very apparent but will these characters have a happy-ever-after in this world? Lily, another character stuck in Vamp City, shows up every once in a while to update readers on her progress through the terrible Vamp City world.

Absolutely do not pick up A Kiss of Blood unless you have read A Blood Seduction or you will be lost. Only a few weeks have passed since Quinn escaped Vamp City with her brother Zach after being trapped there. Quinn is trying to move on but she is having a hard time doing it when she keeps seeing people fall into the death trap that is Vamp City with no help or rescue coming. Then Zach is progressively getting worse with his illness and Quinn is pretty sure it is related to the fact that Vamp City is dying and the magic is somehow tied into her brother. Knowing that she has to go back and renew the magic to restore Vamp City, Quinn gives in and returns under the stipulation that she will be no one’s slave (and hopefully not be tortured).

Quinn grows up a lot in this novel. She still wants to rescue everyone but this time she is more careful about it, knowing she can’t get caught if she wants to save her brother’s life. She makes some bold decisions which in turn help her learn more about the magic she has inside of her. When Quinn is confronted with her true nature, she breaks down, but it gives her the resolve she needs in order to continue with her mission.

Arturo is a completely different character in thought and action. He is such a hard character to grasp. While I didn’t completely like him from the first novel since he seemed like such a heartless bastard, I wasn’t quite sure what to think when he kept following Quinn like a puppy dog and asking for her forgiveness and her love. His motives for not outing himself and saving Quinn are quite reasonable in this setting but I’m still not quite sure I like the complete 180 of his character.

I was so completely engrossed with the storyline to A Kiss of Blood that the abrupt ending startled me. I saw the page numbers coming to a close but I felt the real story/battle was coming but it didn’t. Sadly, I have to wait for the next novel to find out what’s next for Quinn, Arturo, Zach and the rest of the gang. After thinking about it, A Kiss of Blood really felt like a filler novel helping to bridge a gap to an inevitable terrible showdown. A few major details were revealed but the real questions will be answered (I hope!) when the next novel comes out.

Overall, I’m still a fan of Pamela Palmer’s writing style and this incredibly dark world that she has created. I will pick up a copy of the next book because if the way this one ended is any indication of the action we will see in the upcoming title, there will be a lot of craziness going on.

Notable Scene:

Suddenly, her back was up against the wall, her body pinned by that of a furious vampire.

“It is my business. You are my business.” Arturo’s enunciation was slow and cold and dangerously precise. “You are mine, Quinn Lennox. Mine.

She gaped at him, speechless. “I’m not your slave. I’ve never been your slave, and I’m never going to be!”

“Not my slave.” At her words, at her vehemence, his anger seemed to ease. He gripped her jaw with long, cool fingers. She tried to jerk away, but he held her fast. His voice lowered, softened. “You are mine, cara. The sunshine that warms my flesh. My sunlight.” His hold on her jaw tightened, though not unduly so. His expression grew tormented. “Do you have any idea how much I want you? Yet I do not push you. You have lost your faith in me. You are angry with me for handing you over to Cristoff and, dio Quinn, you have a right to be.

He released her suddenly, turning away, running a hand through his hair. “The things I saw today . . .” His voice was low with anguish. “I have watched his atrocities for months, years, and felt too little. Felt nothing.

Quinn stared at him, her own anger slipping away as she realized how shaken he really was. This wasn’t about Neo. This was about Cristoff.

“What happened at Gonzaga Castle this morning, Arturo?” she asked quietly. Not that she really wanted to know. She didn’t.

When he didn’t answer, she reached for him, sliding her hand down his back. She felt him tense and shudder. Slowly, he turned back to face her, his expression revealing little, but his eyes burning.

He took her face in his hands. “He will never touch you again. I vow it.” His shoulders sank, his forehead tipping against hers. “Mio dio. You’ve changed me, cara. I cannot decide if I should thank you or hate you for it.”

Vamp City Series:

1. A Blood Seduction

1.5 Vampires Gone Wild

2. A Kiss of Blood

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FTC Advisory: Avon/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of A Kiss of Blood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

April 11th, 2014 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kaitlin under Review Tags: Ann Brashares, Review, Science Fiction, The Here and Now, The Here and Now Series, Young Adult

The Here and NowTitle: The Here and Now

Author: Ann Brashares

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: The Here and Now (Book 1)

Publication Date: April 8th, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages

ISBN-10: 0385736800 (Teens@Random)

ISBN-13: 978-0385736800 (Teens@Random)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking–and a must-read novel of the year.

“This gripping story is set in a world unlike any other and inhabited by beautifully imagined characters that stay with you long after the last page. As always, Brashares expertly captures the wonder of love’s enduring power.” – Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars

Quick & Dirty: This novel has an intriguing plot but fell a little short for me.

Opening Sentence: His dad had to work, so Ethan had gone fishing alone.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Here and Now is a book about Prenna and Ethan. Prenna comes from a ruined future, in which a horrible plague has wiped out almost everyone. There are rules in her society, and they include not telling a time native anything, and not falling in love. But Prenna will break all of them in her quest to set the timestream right.

This plot had enormous potential. I was immediately enthralled by the idea, two lovers, from different times, held apart by the their differences and yet drawn together all the same. The book was written uniquely, too. But I was disappointed. My expectations were too high, and I felt let down. Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing book, but there were things I didn’t love that I’ll highlight in the review. For example, I felt no development of the love. I felt an attempt at development of romance. I really did feel the effort. But Prenna thinking “I might love him” one page and “I know now I love him” another wasn’t the development I’m fond of or looking for.

I did like that Ethan wasn’t your typical boy character — either shy and kind, or dark and brooding. Ethan was light and fun, with hair the “color of cheetos”. It was refreshing to here of a character that is so different from YA males these days. But I’m not really sure I felt the chemistry between Ethan and Prenna. Prenna’s so hesitant and unsure it doesn’t seem like they are easygoing enough around each other, even though her POV definitely shows she likes him, even when she’s completely forgotten they’re of different times.

The book’s pacing was interesting. At times it would be fine, and I wouldn’t mind it much. At other times, the author would try to draw out suspense by making a few hours into 30 pages. These were the times I was tempted to stop reading. Then the part that had the suspense built up for it would go really fast and I’d reread to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I definitely did enjoy most of the novel, don’t get me wrong.

The Here and Now is a good story with an intriguing plot, but didn’t seem to be executed as well as I wanted. I did like my time in this book, but it wasn’t anything I would reread or rate higher than 3 stars. I’m sure others will feel differently and I know that anyone who checks it out will be very interested in the idea of the story.

Notable Scene:

It’s less than a half a block away before I realize it’s not just the tears blinding me. I strode away without my glasses, and I can’t go back. I’m too proud, too afraid, too determined, and, as the councilors are fond of reminding me, too stupid.

The Here and Now Series:

1. The Here and Now

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FTC Advisory: Delacorte Press/Random House provided me with a copy of The Here and Now. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Giveaway: Stone Cold by Devon Monk

April 10th, 2014 @ 12:10 am
Posted by Kristie under Giveaway Tags: Broken Magic Series, Devon Monk, Stone Cold, Urban Fantasy

Devon MonkDark Faerie Tales is excited to present to you a giveaway for Stone Cold by Devon Monk. Stone Cold is part of a two book series that is set in the Allie Beckstrom series. The last book in this series was released on April 1, 2014 from Roc/Penguin books.

One lucky reader will win a copy of Stone Cold by Devon Monk! This giveaway is provided by Roc/Penguin! This is a US only giveaway.

About Devon:

Devon Monk has one husband, two sons, and a dog named Mojo. She writes the Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy series and the Age of Steam steampunk series, knits silly things, and lives in Oregon.

You can visit Devon around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Devon Monk?

Magic to the Bone Magic in the Blood Magic in the Shadows Magic on the Storm Magic at the Gate Magic on the Hunt Magic on the LineMagic Without Mercy (Allie ...Magic for a Price (Allie Be...Dead Iron Tin Swift Cold CopperHell Bent Stone ColdHouse Immortal

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contest

This contest is provided by Roc/Penguin

One lucky reader will win a copy of Stone Cold by Devon Monk

Stone Cold

Available April 1, 2014 from Roc/Penguin

About this Book:

Magic just isn’t what it used to be. After one little apocalypse, magic has been tamed. That’s a good thing for the people whose job it is to keep the deadly uses of magic a secret; people like Shame Flynn and Terric Conley. But some people didn’t get the memo that everything is better now that magic has been gentled. The government and their pet psychopath, Eli Collins, are looking for new ways to use magic as a weapon. They think they’ve found one: by carving spells into the flesh of innocents and turning them into brainless, walking bombs. It’s as experimental as it is brutal, but it’s effective – as long as no one cares how many people are destroyed along the way.

Shame Flynn and Terric Conley are marked by Life and Death magic and don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Still, they made a deal – they’ll try not to kill each other long enough to save their friend, Davy Silvers and kill their enemy, Eli Collins. But the cost of wielding Life and Death magic is nothing compared to the price they’re about to pay to save their own souls, a price that might change the fat of the world and magic itself.

Because unlike opportunity, the apocalypse doesn’t only knock once.

Order from

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Early Review: Frozen by Erin Bowman

April 9th, 2014 @ 8:00 pm
Posted by Bridget under Review Tags: Dystopian, Erin Bowman, Frozen, Review, Taken Series, Young Adult

Frozen Erin BowmanTitle: Frozen

Author: Erin Bowman

GenreYA Dystopian

SeriesTaken (Book #2)

Publication DateApril 15, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062117297 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062117298 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Bridget

Synopsis:

The Heists were only the beginning.

Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.

Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…

Quick & Dirty: Frozen was a good read full of action and suspense. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time with the love triangle, so that really hinderd how much I enjoyed the story.

Opening Sentence: We have been walking for two weeks.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Gray escaped the Heist, but that was just the beginning. Leaving Claysoot was suppose to provide him with answers, but instead he found himself in the middle of a war. The United States tore itself apart and now clean water is a scarce commodity. The US split into two different territories the AmEast and the AmWest. They fight to control the water supplies and it has turned deadly. There is a ruthless man that rules the AmEast and he will do anything to bring his enemies down. He has come up with an idea to build the perfect army, but because he is a cruel man, a rebellion has risen up to overthrow him.

Gray and his band of rebels are on their way to try and find allies. Group A was supposedly abandoned years ago with no saviors, but Gray believes differently. Out of all the test groups they were the most well stocked and provided with the highest living experience. If the rebels can convince Group A to join they may be able to use their city as a second base and finally be able to beat AmEast. But Gray has to constantly question who he can trust with the technology that the enemy possesses — anyone could be a traitor, even his closest friends.

Gray is an interesting character that was hard for me to relate to at times. He is very loyal and when he believes in something he is willing to fight for it. But he is really indecisive about a lot of things and it really drove me nuts. When it came to the girls he was completely spineless. It was like he could never say no to a pretty face and he was naïve enough to not think he was leading both girls on. Even when they would plainly spell it out to him. Sadly, this made me lose a lot of respect for Gray because it made him come across as a jerk.  Because of this, I had a really hard time connecting with him and his story.

Bree is a very independent girl that has had a very hard life. Being heisted at 16, she has been traveling with the rebellion for almost a year now. She has a hard time letting people in and she doesn’t like to feel like she owes anyone anything. I get that she has been hurt, but I felt that the whole tough act is way overdone. She is so moody all the time that it started to really get on my nerves. With Gray she was very hot and cold and honestly, I thought she was being ridiculous. Alas, because of her moodiness and dramatic attitude, I ended up really not liking her character at all. It was hard for me to root for her and Gray because all they seemed to do was fight. I thought they brought out the worst in each other, and personally I think they are way better off just being friends.

Then there is sweet Emma. I absolutely fell in love with Emma in the first book of the series. She is so caring and stayed true to herself. Yes, she obviously made some big mistakes, but I thought that she tries really hard to redeem herself. Also, she really wants to make things work with Gray even though he has been a total jerk to her. I honestly think that Emma deserves someone better then Gray, but I do think that they complement each other well. I just loved their romance from the very beginning and I hope that they end up together.

I know that I have said quite a few negative things about this book, but in all honesty besides the romance this was actually a really great book. I usually don’t have a problem with love triangles, but this one really didn’t work for me at all. Maybe it was because it was a guy and two girls instead of vice versa. It made Gray come off as a jerk and both the girls seemed so fragile that they would totally break if he didn’t pick them. But with all that being said, the rest of the book was very well done. It was very fast paced and full of action.  Bowman did a wonderful job weaving a story full of intrigue and suspense. There were some pretty big plot surprises that really kept the book interesting. While I didn’t quite like this book as much as Taken, I still did enjoy it, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the final book. I would recommend that young adult dystopian fans give this series a try, I think that they will find it interesting and unique.

Notable Scene:

I take a small step forward, and he pinches the blade into Emma’s neck. Blood blooms against the weapon, against her pale skin, and when she cries out in pain, I know this is not my brother. Not really. Blaine would never force me into this position. He would never hold a knife to Emma or spill even a drop of her blood/

We’ve been deceived. We are not dealing with one spy; we are dealing with two.

And they are Forgeries.

I do the only thing I can think of: I let my arrow fly.

Taken Series:

0.5 Stolen

1. Taken

2. Frozen

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FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Frozen. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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